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Natural Preserves and the National Parks
Bashkir National Nature Preserve
The Bashkir State Reserve (BSR) is situated in the Burzyan District of the Republic of Bashkortostan, on the slopes of the Southern Urals. It was formed in 1980, then closed, and has been established anew since 1958. Up to 1986 it consisted of 3 parts: Ural-Tau, the Southern Krak and Pribelsky. The latter in 1986 was transformed into an independent rezerve of Shulgan-Tash. The total area of the Bashkir State Reserve makes 49,6 thousand hectares.
About 700 species of herbal, shrub and arboreal plants grow in the reserve. Herbaceous forests consisting of pine- and larch-trees occur in the most southern woods' subzone. Here European forests closely approach the Urals-Siberian woods.
The Ural-tau's forests have been preserved rather well. Large spots of clearings, and in the rivers' valleys - meadows occur among these woods. In the Southern Kraka pure pine and birch-pine forests dominate, on the slopes of the Southern expositions and the crests of ridges they pass into mountainous stony steppes, where the relic steppes' formations occur, consisting of direct onion (Allium strictum), oblique onion (A. obliquum), fringed sagebrush (Artemisia frigida), Siberian cornflower (Sentaurea sibirica), etc.
The climate, landscape and peculiarities of the plant's cover predominate the species variety of the animal world. 51 species of birds, a number of species of reptiles, amphibia and fishes populate the reserve. Very many species of fishes are entered into the Red Data Book: the European grayling (Thymallus thymallus), salmon trout (Hucho taimen), the brook trout (Salmo frutta morpha fario).
The most frequenflly occurring birds are: white wagtail (Motacilla alba), thrushes: fieldfare (Turdus pilarus) and blackbird (T. merula), deaf cuckoo (Cuculus optacus) and common cuckoo one (C. canorus), woodcock (Scolopax rusficola). In the rivers big mergansers (Mergus merganser) are nestling. At the very time one can observe a reduction in the number of common cranes (Grus grus), three-toed woodpecker (Picoides tridactylus) and perm (Pernis apivorous). A very interesting bird - a common dipper (Cinclus cinclus) inhabites the reserve. It eats up water insects and their larvae, that it gets from the bottom of the river diving.
There are few roe deers (Capreolus capreolus) and kolinskies (Mustela sibirica) in the reserve. At the same time noticeably more martens (Martes martes), marals (Cervus elaphus), elks (Alces alces), bears (Ursus arctous) and lynxes (Felis lynx) appeared.
In the preserve's woods there still occur the Bashkir wild-hive bee (Apis mellifera). It draws the attention of specialists by its unpretenciousness and high cold-resistance. (See Ill.)
The National Park Bashkiria
The "Bashkiria" National Park is located on the western slopes of the Urals Mountains between the Nugush and Belaya Rivers, as well as on the eastern spur of Obshchii Syrt and the northern part of Zilair Plateau. It scatters over the territory of three administrative districts Burzyanski, Kugarchinski and Meleuzovski. The Park for about 30 kilometres from north to south and its total area is 82,300 hectares. In the east, the Park borders on the "Shulgan-Tash" State Sanctuary.
The flora of the "Bashkiria" National Park features 40 rare and disappearing species which were entered into the Red Data Book of the Republic of Bashkortostan (2001) and 15 - in the Red Data Book of the RSFSR (1988). N. Torgasheva made a profound survey of broad-leaved forests and birch-tree groves in the vicinity of Nugushskoye Water Reservoir as well as the vegetation of Mount Kalmash and identified 107 species of fungi, one of which is entered into the Red Data Book.
The central portion of the Park which is difficult to access is rich in forests with numerous fallen trees and hollows in old trees which give shelter to many live organisms and add to this area's biological diversity. Meadows, steppes and marshes do not contribute greatly to the composition of the Park's vegetation.
The territory of the "Bashkiria" National Park accommodates the three natural monuments as follow:
- "Kuperlya" karst bridge ("kuperlya" means "with a bridge" in Bashkir) located in the area frequented by tourists;
- "Kutuk-Sumgan" isolated terrain feature ("kutuk" - "water well", "sumgan" - "dived") located in a specially protected zone. It is here that the famous Sumgan Cave is located;
- "Bear's Meadow" with the concentrated growth of Allium obliquum L.
"Kuperlya" karst bridge ("kuperlya" means "with a bridge" in Bashkir) located in the area frequented by tourists
It is a natural bridge over the river. The given bridge is quite a rare form of karst in relief. In its essence the bridge is a ruined channel of an underground river and it runs through a deep canyon. Its height over the bed is 20 meters, width - 4 metes and length of its hanging part is 10 meters.
"Kutuk-Sumgan" isolated terrain feature ("kutuk" - "water well", "sumgan" - "dived") located in a specially protected zone. It is here that the famous Sumgan Cave is located.
The given natural boundary is a unique place from speleological and karst points of view, as here a variety of karst, erosion and cave forms, built with the help of recent karst being laid over older layers. There are a lot of calcium formations in the natural boundary: deep karst relicts, more than 30 caves different in size and depth. The sum length of major passages is 8.200 meters and depth - 126 meters. Passages in some caves are quite dangerous because of ice and underground rivers.
The State Natural Preserve Shulgan-Tash
The preserve is located at the point of intersection of two most beautiful rivers of the republic - the Belaya (White River) and the Yuruzan. In Bashkir epos these two rivers are often called the most beautiful, generous and noble helpers and bread-winners for the Bashkir people. The territory of the preserve is extremely rich in plants, relief and animals. A museum and excursion center has been organized in Shulgan Tash to provide its visitors with the opportunity to know about the beauty of Bashkortostan and to feel its freedom.
Flora: Number of species of the plants is 880. The territory of reserve is classified forest and steppe nature zones, and also the European and Siberian bio-geographical areas with forest occupying the majority of the territory. Broad-leaved old-age forests with sections of glades with high grass and meadow steppes also prevail. Birch and white birch, black poplar, oak, maple, pine, Siberian spruce, gray alder, aspen are distributed throughout the reserve.
Fauna: Number of species of fish: 27; Number of species of reptiles: 6; Number of nesting species of birds: 196; Number of species of mammals: 54. The fauna of the reserve is characteristic for the deciduous and mixed forests of the southern Urals. Forest marten, brown bears, wolves, lambs and roe are common. The famous Bashkir wild bee is protected.
In the reserve is the unique world famous Capova cave. Being a complex natural monument the cave is of great interest because of its structure: multiple grottos and halls connected by passages of various levels. Total length of all the cave passages is more than 2.7 km and the total volume of the cavities - about 86000 cubic metres. The cave walls are rich in calcite sinters of all shapes and sizes. The cave has three levels. Inside the cave the river "Underground Shulgan" flows forming a Blue Lake at its entrance. In the cave scientists found rock paintings made by primitive men in the Paleolithic Epoch.
South Urals National Nature Preserve
Among the specially protected nature territories of the South Urals, the South Urals National Nature Preserve (SUNNP) is an undisputed and absolute leader both in terms of its territory and in the number of protected species and ecosystems. It was founded on June 1, 1979 to preserve the unique nature complexes of the South Urals montane and taiga coniferous woods and high-altitude vegetation - montane tundra, sub-alpine meadows and high-altitude marshes.
The Preserve is located in the most elevated part of the South Urals in the north of Beloretski District, about 10 percent of its territory lying in Chelyabinsk Oblast. The SUNNP terrain reflects the major natural peculiarities of the mountainous South Urals. Preserved here in their pristine state are unique montane ecosystems, forest and high-altitude communities, as well as many species of plants and animals. Specially protected here are rare plant and animal species. Among them are 12 species of higher plants, 2 species of lichens, 3 fungi species, 11 species of birds, 5 fish species and 3 species of insects entered into the Red Data Book of the RSFSR and that of the Russian Federation, as well as rare species of plants - the South Urals endemics and relicts of ancient geological epochs. In accordance with its status, the South Urals National Nature Preserve performs the two major functions: it is an etalon of the region's nature and a nature reserve for many plant and animal species.
The Natural Park of the Muradymovskoye Ravine
The park is one of the most wonderful places in the Urals and Russia. Objects of great scientific, cultural, historic and aesthetic value are located here. These are caves, wall drawings made by primitive people, calcite deposits, rare plants and animals. On the territory of the park the concentration of caves is very high. There are 46 caves. The most famous is called Staromurdymovskaya Cave. There one can find calcite deposits and primitive drawings. In the cave names Dove's Grotto scientists found a primitive camp of the Paleolithic epoch. The area of the park is 23.5 thousand hectares. The average number of tourists in summer on weekdays is about 50-1000 and on weekends - 200-400. However, there are no autobus routes to the part so far.
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